I think the reaction most people had when they found out I was driving a 2018 Maserati GranTurismo MC for the weekend was: “Holy hell, they still make that thing?” Yes, in fact, they do and the world is a more glorious place because of it.
(Full disclosure: Maserati wanted us to drive a 2018 GranTurismo MC so badly that it dropped one off at our office with a full tank of gas.)
The GranTurismo MC is, in my humble opinion, the most exciting offering Maserati has in its current lineup. No other Maseratis make me do a double-take like the GT does or has done since 2007, which is when it first came out. The aggressive front facia has aged incredibly well and how can anyone say no to a naturally aspirated Ferrari V8 this late into 2017?
In 2007, there was a plethora of all-motor V8 cars to choose from. Mercedes, BMW, Ferrari, Audi and Pontiac (!) had them. Even so, the GT stood out in terms of looks and sheer aural presence. It was never the fastest, the greatest performer or the most powerful—but that was fine. It never felt concerned with such trivialities. It looked good and sounded great.
Why Maserati still has the dated GT as its flagship is anyone’s guess, but even though it’s “so 2007,” it feels old in the best ways. It still has a switchblade-style key. The engine isn’t obscured by an expanse of plastic shrouding. The temperature control unit uses a greenish digital screen. The speedometer numbers read by 20 mph increments, not 10. There is no start/stop option. It only has six gears. It has hydraulic steering!
The MC version gives the GT a more track-focused aesthetic, which includes a carbon fiber chin and trunk spoiler. When you lift the hood, sunlight flashes along the underside and across the ribbons of carbon fiber that comprise it. I’m decidedly apathetic about the carbon fiber—mostly because the rest of the car is so devastatingly pretty.
My test car came in a dark glossy gray that soaked up the atmosphere of the air around it like a sponge. During a Manhattan morning it effused a cool, blue tone. In the slanting, late-afternoon gilded rays, it took on a warmer and orangish hue.
More and more, I am convinced that the cars with the cleanest lines will age the best. The GT’s grille is simple. The headlines are vaguely parallelogram-ish in shape. The Maserati trident is positioned front and center and doesn’t light up or do anything dumb. It is a total step away from the face of a Lexus LC500, which I rather like, but also won’t deny is a hot mess and will most likely age horribly.
Inside, you’ll find comfortable bucket seats covered in soft leather, supportive and livable even after a seven-hour journey. It is a grand tourer, after all. Knock your knuckles against the dashboard, open and close the glovebox—things feel well-made; quality. The carbon fiber paddles behind the steering wheel pull easily, though they are large and take some getting used to to maneuver your fingers around to reach the turn signal.
The backseats, also, are decently useful if you are a petite person or a human child. There’s adequate legroom, but your back will always be slightly bent as the seats have a distinctive cup shape. They’re fine for short trips, but ideal for storing inanimate objects, like luggage, that don’t complain.
Maserati gave the GT some updates inside in an attempt to stay contemporary: a big screen dominates the center console and thankfully it’s integrated nicely into the design, not just stuck on top of the dash like an afterthought. The angle of the backup camera is nice and wide, its dynamic guidance working in conjunction smoothly with the steering wheel. If the car had any blind-spot assists, adaptive cruise control systems or lane departure warnings, they were not on when I got the car and I could not figure out how to activate them.
From the 4.7-liter V8 snarls 454 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque. Zero to 62 mph happens in a claimed 4.7 seconds. In normal mode, the car is perfectly civil, its V8 burbling along and hardly making its presence known.
But push the little ‘Sport’ button and the car wakes the hell up: valves open so the burble becomes a roar, the throttle response sharpens and, in the automatic setting, the transmission drops to a lower gear, kicking up revs.
I know I don’t need to tell you guys this, but don’t leave the car in automatic while in Sport mode. It leaves the revs hanging at an uncomfortable spot—about 700 RPM too high—and refuses to upshift and stay in that gear. I clicked the right paddle to pop the car into sixth gear (I wasn’t doing anything aggressive, I was just cruising and liked the noise) and a few seconds later the car automatically stuck itself back into fifth. Leave it in manual and pick the gears yourself.
The GranTurismo is the only car in the Maserati lineup that won’t get electronically assisted steering. It’s all hydraulic, man! And it felt so good. Smooth around the corners, feeding in tactile information about the road, I always knew where the front of the car was pointed. Any floatiness that I’d experienced in other electronic steering systems was conspicuously absent. God, I sound like such a lousy industry hack for saying this, but while some systems come very close to being this good, I don’t think anything has replaced in terms of feel just yet.
The GT isn’t a “driver’s car”—meaning that it doesn’t have rock-hard suspension and lightning-quick shifts or whatever toys that you can dominate at the track with. It’s heavy; there’s some mass to it. The suspension isn’t novocaine-addled, it’s supple and balanced. It’s happiest with spirited carving through twisting backroads and then settling down again for a long journey on the highway.
The shitty part of me thought that the car could have benefitted from an extra 50 HP—the second-gear pulls were excellent but lacked the final wham of more powerful cars. But for everyday usage, 454 horsepower is more than enough. It certainly has ample power for merging and passing, which is what normal people do. And if you want to punch it somewhere—say, on a lonely Vermont road—the engine will yell very loudly and you’ll absolutely find a big dumb grin plastered to your face.
In fact, the only problem I had with the car over the weekend was its price: $150,570, the spec sheet reported. That is asking a lot for a car that’s masquerading as one from 2018 while really being from 2007. With this price tag in mind, I was on extra high-alert for anything more that would make it un-$150,570.
And I did have some grievances. For one, the steering wheel squeaked. There were less than 2,500 miles on the clock and you could hear the steering wheel squeaking when you drove the car around town—a squee like your cabinet door would make.
Every so often, going over a bump, a sharp, metallic clang would sound from the front suspension. But it wasn’t consistent with every bump, only some of them, all of varying heights. Most mysterious. But perhaps these were just issues related exclusively to this press car.
On top of that, some of the car’s other features were deliciously janky. Little things. Pressing the “Sport” mode button wouldn’t illuminate it, so the only real way of knowing if you were or weren’t in Sport mode is if you listened to the sound of your exhaust.
The small center screen in the dashboard between the tachometer and speedometer wouldn’t give you a digital speedometer (because, remember, the analogue speedometer read in increments on 20 mph, making knowing your actual speed more or less a guessing game), but it would let you know what level your and your passenger’s seat heater were at. In fact, if you were sitting in the passenger seat and wanted to turn on the seat heater, there was no physical way to tell what notch you were at unless you asked the driver.
And, oh, does this car love to beep at you. It beeped at everything. It beeped for seat belts, parking brake engagement and just shit that was too close. At one point, I was parked with my seatbelt on in an open stretch of road to take some pictures, with nothing in front of me and nothing behind me. The car wouldn’t stop chirping. Unable to figure out what was upsetting it so and rapidly losing patience, I swiftly exited the car and slammed its door shut, cutting off the fretting.
These things are not really acceptable in a normal car, much less a $150,000 Italian grand tourer. Yet, I’d wager that none of that actually matters. Like, at all.
Nobody who is buying a GT is cross shopping it with anything else. Yes, a Mercedes-AMG GT has more power and better gas mileage. You get way more bang for your buck for a Jaguar F-Type. The Lexus LC500 rides better, is more comfortable and technologically advanced. These are objectively better cars.
But a Maserati GT buyer gets this car and only this car because it’s what they want, nothing more—it’s great because of the sheer fact that it is still here. It is best enjoyed in a vacuum because that’s the space it sort of takes up now. It’s been around for so long that everything that used to surround it is gone—kind of like seeing pictures of the Colosseum through the ages and how modern Rome grew and advanced around it.
I don’t know when the GranTurismo will eventually be phased out and I kind of hope that it won’t. But when it is, we will truly see an end of an era.